Sisters of Christ


This article discusses the gender constitution of Swedish clergywomen in their professional careers. Light is shed upon the strategies developed by the informants, how they cope with their situation both as women and clerics and their potential to develop a new professional clerical role. It is obvious that clergywomen are often given a warm reception by their parishioners, but not always by their male colleagues. Here we speak of a type of male homosociality that excludes women from the “top positions” in the Church of Sweden.

One interesting field for analysis of the process of gender constitution is spiritual counselling, where the axes of gender and positional power tend to reinforce each other when the minister is a man, while they deviate from each other when the minister is a woman. Concerning the informants’ understanding of gender, it can be pointed out that essential and constructional understandings appear to co-exist. Activating different understandings of gender in different situations may be a type of survival strategy in a professional context, where the very existence of clergywomen is called into question.

How to Cite

Meurling, B., (2002) “Sisters of Christ”, Ethnologia Europaea 32(1), 25-34. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Birgitta Meurling (Uppsala University)



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